A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that for those with a taste for the creepy and bizarre, this sequel is a romp. There is fantasy violence: The Lord of Midnight is obsessed with killing Candy, and she is in peril -- and the book ends in a major battle at sea. There are frightening creatures too, such as a mass of murderous insects. But Candy is a strong character who must solve a mystery about her own story, and help stop Absolute Midnight from taking over the world. Along the way, she discovers some magical powers inside of herself. This beautifully constructed fantasy world -- illustrated both in pictures and in text -- will inspire readers to use their imaginations. Readers who have finished the first book will have a much better understanding of what's going on in this darker sequel.
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What's the story?
The plot is simply told -- Candy Quackenbush, lately of our world, spends the entire book being hunted and chased around the islands of the Abarat by the Lord of Night, Christopher Carrion, who sees her as a mysterious impediment to his plans to rule all of the Abarat. Along the way she meets more fantastic creatures, travels through more fantastic places, and begins to discover fantastic powers within herself. The creatures include a mass of murderous insects called the Sacbrood; the Totemix, a tribe of creatures liberated from a totem pole; and an actual Abaratian freak show, which is really saying something. Places include an island where everything grows and decays in a matter of minutes, a cavern where the thread that joins all things begins, and another island that is actually a living creature.
Is it any good?
What makes this book so mesmerizing is the sheer outrageous fecundity of the author's imagination, expressed both verbally and in the hundred-odd color paintings that adorn this gorgeous volume. Clive Barker, known primarily for horror, has harnessed that bizarre and grotesque imagination and turned it into something weirdly, perversely, but delightfully beautiful. Barker has tightened up his pacing considerably since the first book, and he culminates this volume with a thrilling epic battle across two worlds, involving (among much else) an army of stitched-together mud-creatures and a giant ship whose parts begin coming to life. The basic plot may be simple and familiar -- Alice crossed with Odysseus -- but no one has ever done anything quite like this.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the creepy aspect of this book. Is that part of the appeal for you, or does it unnerve you? Which does more to draw this story in your mind, the text or the paintings?
This book is part of a planned series. What is fun about reading a series? What other ones can you think of? Why do you think authors like to write them? Why might a publisher want to print a series rather than a single book?
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